Affleck, Ben   Sanitizing Psychopathy 

Ben Affleck, Rwanda, and Corporate Sustained Catastrophe by Keith Harmon Snow

FUBAR in Central Africa

by Keith Harmon Snow

Part 1  Part 2

 January 23rd, 2009

Backed by the Obama Administration and its former Clinton allies, Rwandan troops have marched into Congo, ostensibly to save the day, yet again, barely a month after a scathing United Nations report revealed that they were already there. Meanwhile, the recent UNHCR Gimme Shelter campaign uses the iconic Rolling Stones song and Hollywood star Ben Affleck’s video of suffering in Congo as a propaganda tool to peddle the international catastrophe of western AID, intervention and plunder in Central Africa. A look behind the scenes reveals the hidden interests of the misery industry, the obliviousness of do-gooder celebrities, and actor Ben Affleck’s personal patronage of Paul Kagame and the perpetrators of genocide in Central Africa.

Tears run down the face of a humble Congolese man grieving his wife’s death at the hands of a militia in North Kivu, DRC. He is one of millions of innocent people struggling to survive amidst the ongoing and sustainable catastrophe in Congo. Photo Keith Harmon Snow, 2007.

On December 17, 2008, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) unveiled their latest fundraising campaign in pursuit of charity donations ‘for Congo War Victims’. Set to the iconic song by Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, the four-minute Gimme Shelter video filmed and produced by Hollywood star Ben Affleck is an advertisement for UNHCR.1 The UNHCR logo appears at least ten times in the short film, serving the modern day advertising technique of ‘product placement’ to inspire charitable giving to the UNHCR enterprise.

“When awareness is raised, when constituencies start to pay attention, they are more likely to pay attention to that one thing than another,” director Ben Affleck told Voice of America. “What I can do is care about something. What I can do is make it important to my elected officials. Diplomacy is free.”

Diplomacy is free? Is Ben Affleck a ‘free’ agent working to help the people of Congo? Or is Affleck enhancing and trading in moral currency in the arena of international public opinion?

Since 2007, Ben Affleck has repeatedly traveled to Rwanda and Congo. While presenting himself as an independent agent on a humanitarian mission in Congo, Ben Affleck, simultaneously, has closely affiliated himself with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his military government—the people responsible for perpetrating and perpetuating war crimes in Congo and Rwanda.

Considering his relationships to powerful people directly involved in war in Africa’s Great Lakes, one wonders if Ben Affleck is playing his actor’s role both on stage and off. In any case, Ben Affleck is not the first Hollywood celebrity to be fronted as the Great White Hope for the Congo, and many of the same Hollywood actorvists have been similarly used by the NGO industry in Haiti.

Actress Jessica Lange has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2003; her first mission was into the Congo. Covering Congo and Sudan, Actor George Clooney has starred as a UN Messenger of Peace since January 2008, a role actor Michael Douglas has played since 1998.

Since 2001, actress Angelina Jolie has been UNHCR’s ‘Goodwill Ambassador,’ a role that took her to eastern Congo in 2003 and 2004.2 Jolie traveled in eastern Congo with intelligence insider and International Crisis Group agent John Prendergast, who is aligned with a growing army of ‘Save Darfur’ cloned organizations that deploy state-of-the-art media technologies to undermine and co-opt any true grass roots movement to legitimately empower African people.3 ,4

Jolie also starred as a ‘selfless’ hero working as a UNHCR official in Hollywood’s Beyond Borders, a film that peddles the necessity of mixing Central Intelligence Agency gun-running operations with humanitarian missions—because it is ostensibly for the ‘right’ cause: Western sponsored covert interventions.

Hollywood stars from the film Ocean’s Thirteen formed another ‘humanitarian’ organization that inevitably throws celebrity raised funds at the western structural violence and white power economies focused on sustaining disaster in Africa. The governing board of Not On Our Watch includes Ocean’s Thirteen stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, and Matt Damon—Ben Affleck’s buddy ‘Will’ from the film Good Will Hunting—and producers Jerry Weintraub and David Pressman.5

Clooney recently joined John Prendergast, a U.S. National Security apparatus insider, and Hollywood producer David Pressman to pen a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, opining all the usual trite platitudes—but absent a single recommendation of substance—about how President Obama can help Congo.6 Prendergast, who is billed as a ‘leading American human rights activist’, has previously boasted of traveling around Sudan and Central Africa with President Paul Kagame, and he is named as one of the early architects of the RPA coup d’etat in Rwanda.7

The entire exercise of appointing and fronting Hollywood celebrities as United Nations ‘Messengers for Peace’ and ‘Goodwill Ambassadors’ is a further means by which the establishment whitewashes the war-making and plunder of multinational corporations, and the individuals responsible for carnage the world over, and to more deeply institutionalize the structural violence. Described as ‘helping to shine light on the world’s trouble spots’, celebrity actorvism is more like a cop shining a bright light in your eyes so that you are disoriented, confused and blinded.

Privatizing the ‘humanitarian’ sector through media celebrities or through entertainment and publicity extravaganzas—like ‘Food AID’ and ‘Band AID’ and ‘Not on Our Watch’—that falsely claim to benefit African people, simultaneously lets governments off the hook, obscures the true intent of predatory capitalism, and creates personality cults that further entrench white ‘society’ pathologies of obliviousness, ignorance, goodness and supremacy.8

“I’m not an expert in international affairs or diplomacy,” Affleck is quoted everywhere as saying, “but it doesn’t take that to see the tremendous suffering here. It’s not something that we as human beings can, in good conscience, ignore.”

What does it take to see and understand the nature of systemic exploitation? We might question Affleck’s good conscience, given what he is ignoring. The short Gimme Shelter video produced by Ben Affleck ignores the realities and players fueling the bloodshed. Is this the same creative genius that brought us the award-winning film Good Will Hunting?

“My hope in being here is primarily to bring attention to the fact that there’s a real lack of (aid agencies) here,” Affleck said, according to public relations productions about his visit. “There’s a real lack of money going to these folks.”

In eastern Congo, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) coordinates 126 organizations, including 10 UN agencies and 50 international NGOs, and scores of state and national NGOs. OCHA also works with Congolese governmental officials and donors.

The annual OCHA budget alone hovers around $US 680-700 million. The 2008 budget for the World Food Program in DRC was about $430 million, with 56% of all food resources designated for North Kivu.9 And while such organizations each year project more than they are able to actually raise, their incomes and their expenditures rise annually: their operating behaviors are identical to that of multinational corporations.

From 2000 to 2007 the UNHCR global expenditures grew from $US 800 million to $US 1.2 billion—and UNHCR delineates $US hundreds of millions annually for DRC and Uganda, where they count some 1.1 million and 1.6 million internally displaced people (IDPs) respectively.10 Indeed, while UNHCR uses the media to plead poverty and peddle hope in the public limelight, the agency applauds its fundraising success in private—where UNHCR statements indicate that UNHCR considers ‘fundraising’ as a profitable business opportunity in its own right. The market—in this case the welfare of millions of people of color—is irrelevant to their goals.

“Following a period of strong income growth,” reads a UNHCR executive job posting, “the UN Refugee Agency has decided to increase its investment in private sector fundraising through the recruitment of an experienced fundraising management professional… This fundraising strategy is implemented through a network of nine UNHCR National Associations and Country Offices (Australia, Canada, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, US, Spain, UK). As part of its new investment strategy the UN Refugee Agency is currently carrying out various new market entry studies and plans to launch fundraising programs in several new markets in the coming years.”11

The salary for the UNHCR’s chief fundraising executive ranges from $US 127,104 to $US 151,446—after deductions, per annum, tax exempt, plus additional major benefits.11

Food AID is also being siphoned off the massive ‘humanitarian’ mission in eastern Congo and being sold in markets.12 The criminal aspects of the ‘humanitarian’ enterprise are well established.13

“These international NGOs are all here for the same reason as every other foreigner in Congo—to make money,” reports a newly arrived NGO volunteer from eastern Congo. “I came here to help the folks and seek work, but the more I learn the more FUBAR this place appears to be. It has evolved into a highly efficient corrupt system.”14

Ben Affleck’s statements about “a real lack of (aid agencies) here” and “a real lack of money going to these folks” are demonstrably false. There is no lack of agencies, no lack of money, and these are not ‘folks’—they are highly politicized institutions, part of an industry that perpetuates and institutionalizes deracination, and they use and abuse ‘innocent’ but nihilistic celebrities like Ben Affleck.

“I was thinking there was some thing wrong with him,” reports a Congolese insider, who said that UN officials were telling Congolese people that Ben Affleck wants to build a hospital in North Kivu. “He was not really interested by the position of Congolese people and his heart was in Rwanda during all the time he was here.”15

When George Clooney visited the war zone in eastern Congo the ‘peacekeepers’ played some basketball with him. Did MONUC roll out its marching bands to meet Ben Affleck?

Affleck traveled into to the bush to meet with the Forces for the Democratic Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR)—the militia that Paul Kagame and the western press falsely cite, ad nauseam, as the cause of Rwanda and Congo’s woes. Why did Affleck meet with the FDLR? Was Affleck secretly scouting FDLR positions for Rwandan officials? He also met with Rwandan General Laurent Nkunda, a bonafide war criminal named by the United Nations.

“He didn’t want people to know he came from Rwanda,” the Congolese insider said, after learning about Affleck’s relations with Rwandan officials. “Our problem will never reach an end.”16

Affleck’s visits coincided with protests by Congolese people fed up with MONUC, due to the unchallenged war lords and impunity for war crimes and massive suffering. People everywhere were pelting MONUC vehicles with stones and Affleck’s UN convoy was also reportedly pelted.

Ben Affleck has been defended for “not being guilty of being a celebrity.”17 But given the unsurpassed mortality, sexual atrocities, depopulation and war crimes in Central Africa, and given the extent to which the root causes of these wars have been articulated by certain independent journalists and certain organizations, can one morally or ethically plead ‘innocence’ about the white power interests one is peddling or protecting?

No matter the political intrigues and hidden agendas—which we have only just begun to unpack—the Affleck-Jagger Gimme Shelter campaign is billed as ‘not a political, but a humanitarian’ gesture. However, Ben Affleck is now a highly political actor in the Congo warfare and exploitation arena, as this article will show, and this raises questions about culpability, responsibility and ethics.

Is Ben Affleck seriously concerned about suffering in Congo? Why doesn’t he name any of the white exploiters like Banro Corporation or PricewaterhouseCoopers? What is Ben Affleck’s relationship to the protagonists in this war? Is Ben Affleck being paid for his silence? Or is he just another victim being used by, and benefiting from, a hopelessly corrupt system?

Pakistani troops in kilts play the bagpipes in a marching band attached to MONUC 'peacekeeping' operations in South Kivu, DRC. Photo copyright Keith Harmon Snow, July 2005.


A new United Nations Development Program (UNDP) study released December 17, 2008, reports that nearly half the population in the DRC may not live to 40 years of age, that 75% of the population lived below the poverty line—on less than one dollar a day—while more than half the population (57%) had no access to drinking water or to basic health care (54%), and three out of every 10 children are malnourished.

At the beginning of the Gimme Shelter video, we are told that “In Eastern Congo, the AK-47″—which flashes across the screen strapped to a Congolese soldier’s back—”is known as the Congolese Credit Card.”

Characterizing the Kalashnikov AK-47 as “the Congolese Credit Card” is overtly racist, because it casts Congolese people—and males in particular—as pathological gun-toting thugs. It is the same type of characterization of Congolese men that is made by Eve Ensler and the V-Day Congo lobby about ‘femicide’ in Eastern Congo. ‘Femicide’ is an inaccurate description for a situation where males are usually killed outright, as in Congo. The combination of femicide and homocide amounts to mass murder and, in the case of RPA operations in Rwanda and Congo, genocide.18

Comparing an AK-47 in the hands of a Congolese male to a credit card is doubly racist because it is premised on a blame the victim mentality (by whites) that further ridicules black African males who have no possibility of upward mobility, no possibility of obtaining a Master Card or VISA or American Express—symbols of excessive materialism, western privilege, selective financial access and financial gate-keeping.

Similarly, Affleck’s four minute video of black African faces—who are suffering the indignities of homelessness and beggary—deliberately whites out any images of, or references to, the raw materials leaving the eastern Congo through Uganda and Rwanda, or arriving at ports and factories in Europe, Japan, China and the USA. Affleck’s short film also unquestionably serves the misery industries and the so-called ‘peacekeeping’ professionals that profit from the massive suffering.

After the ‘Congolese Credit Card’ image we are told “there are twenty-two recognized armed groups” in Congo, but nothing at all about their ties to the organized crime networks run by Uganda or Rwanda and their western allies. There is nothing about the proliferation of AK-47s, landmines or other weaponry, or the many white merchants of death behind Central Africa’s woes.

We are told: “UNHCR transports refugee families fleeing from the violence,” but any and all reasons why millions of brutalized people have been forced to flee homes and villages are omitted.

UNHCR senior media officer Tim Irwin said that Gimme Shelter is “designed to inform and mobilize people all around the world to bring relief to hundreds of thousands of Congolese victims who have been uprooted from their homes because of the violence between Hutu militias, ethnic Tutsi rebels, and Congolese soldiers.”

What are the differences between ‘Hutu militias’ and ‘ethnic Tutsi rebels’? Why are Hutus described as ‘militias’ while Tutsis are described as ‘rebel’? What makes ‘ethnic Tutsi rebels’ ethnic, while ‘Hutu militias’, apparently, are not ‘ethnic Hutu’? The same distortions of reality were applied to the establishment narrative of genocide in Rwanda: 100 days of killing; Hutus killing Tutsis and ‘moderate Hutus’… What is a ‘moderate Hutu’?

In establishment narratives, war is peace, slavery is freedom, and language is used to criminalize the innocent, just as it is in the so-called ‘war on terror’. Thus ‘Hutu militias’ has come to mean ‘the genocidal Interahamwe’.19 ‘Tutsi rebels’ means ‘those victimized minority guerrillas who stopped the genocide and are now seeking justice by hunting down every last genocidaire‘—whether man, woman or child. A ‘moderate Hutu’ is one who sided with the minority Tutsi RPA guerrillas—the real terrorists—against the supposed ‘extremist’ government of Juvenal Habyarimana.

As indicated above, mainstream ‘news’ stories are frequently whitewashed by simplistic racial stereotypes: racially tainted sound bites meant to confuse and mislead western ‘news’ consumers. These racial markers serve to distance western populations, especially but not only Caucasians, and they underscore and further inculcate false beliefs about the superiority of both western civilization and white people.

Similarly, the Affleck production whitewashes the chaos created by foreign interventions, covert operations and white-collar organized crime by reducing a complex imperialist invasion to ‘ethnic warfare’. (This is called essentializing.) The structural factors that insure this war will continue, and the huge salaries, adventurous lifestyles and special privileges of white expatriates working in the so-called ‘humanitarian’ aid sector are rendered equally invisible. Multinational corporations, involved in the exploitation, are obliterated without a trace of their ever being there, and, in many cases, they are offered up as the perfect, as yet untried, solution.

Consider just one company, Banro, a Canadian-based gold exploration company with four wholly owned properties, each with mining licenses along a major gold belt of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.20 Banro Corporation operates only in eastern DRC, where they are projecting massive gold profits—in the billions of dollars.

Banro was ‘awarded’ gold concessions comprising 5,730 square kms (2,212 square miles), and Banro personnel are ferried over the remote and blood-drenched South Kivu landscape by private helicopters. From December 31, 2005, to September 31, 2008, Banro—always declaring a loss due to exploration—increased its assets from $US 100 to $US 121 million. In the same period, more than 1000 Congolese people died every day—roughly 1,000,000 victims.

Banro Corporation has identified 4.68 million ounces of gold on ‘their’ properties, and they have inferred another 4.87 million ounces. Banro’s gold prospects are today valued at some $US 3.74 billion (identified) and $US 3.89 billion (inferred), for a total of $US 7.63 billion dollars—and this is just one of the many foreign companies pillaging Congo.

Perhaps Ben Affleck can tell us something we can’t, in good conscience, ignore. How does a Canadian mining company come to ‘wholly-own’ land in blood drenched eastern Congo? And why are Banro Corporation directors—Simon Village, Michael Prinsloo, Arnold Kondrat, Peter Cowley, John Clarke, Bernard van Rooyen, Piers Cumberlege and Richard Lachcik 21 —not under the spotlight for their obvious involvement in war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide?

Banro advertises themselves as one of Congo’s great benefactors “well-positioned to benefit from the timely economic, social and political recovery of the DRC.”22 Hello? To benefit from the timely economic, social and political recovery of the Congo? Hello! The ongoing white-collar business operations of Banro Corporation amidst the killing in eastern Congo are crimes against humanity.

“The principle thing for me, over the course of this last year, has been learning,” Affleck said, prior to a primetime ABC Nightline broadcast—Ben Affleck in Congo—in June 2008. “I needed to learn and I’m still learning. It’s not as if I’m some expert or I’m presenting myself as a person with answers—and I’m not an advocate of a particular organization.”

Affleck’s independence didn’t last long. Before his December 2008 deal with UNHCR, Affleck signed on with Save the Children, a Connecticut based corporate enterprise whose massive profits earned from the chaos of war and suffering in Africa have been sufficiently documented.13

In May 2008, Ben Affleck visited with former child soldiers, as part of Save the Children’s global Rewrite the Future campaign. According to Save the Children PR, the campaign “helps to provide quality education” to children in conflict countries, such as kids in Goma, DRC.23

A Congolese child suffering from malnutrition waits to die in a clinic in North Kivu, DRC. Such images are perpetually used to provoke western media spectators to donate to corporate relief operations. Photo Keith Harmon Snow, 2005.

Can anyone honestly provide a single example of ‘quality education’ available to children in all of Congo?24 White westerners think that a dilapidated cement shell with a tin roof and some wooden benches qualifies as ‘education’ of a higher standard in Africa.

More importantly, Save the Children’s sponsors include Starbucks and Credit Suisse, two multinational corporations that are deeply enmeshed in the geopolitical plunder of Central Africa. However, such relationships between corporate ‘donors’ and so-called ‘non-government’ organizations (NGOs) billed as apolitical humanitarian charities are obscured by the propaganda of white power interests and the obliviousness of its beneficiaries, like Ben Affleck.

President Paul Kagame gave a corporate endorsement at Starbuck’s annual shareholder meeting in Seattle in March 2007. “Starbucks and Rwanda are extended family, very closely linked by the business we do together and the passion we share,” Kagame said.25


The Kagame military machine—backed by the US, U.K., Canada, Germany and Israel—is one of Congo’s greatest enemies. Kagame was one of the original 27 soldiers to launch the guerrilla war in Uganda, 1980, alongside now president-for-life Yoweri Museveni. Kagame soon became the head of Museveni’s dreaded Internal Security Organization, and he was directly involved in tortures, massacres and other human rights atrocities during the Museveni regime’s consolidation of power.

In October 1990 Kagame returned from training at the US Army base at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to lead the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) illegal invasion of Rwanda. The US military and its partners backed the invasion, just as they backed the invasion of Congo in 1996, and the recent invasion of Congo launched this week.

From 1990 to 1994, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), comprised most heavily of Ugandan soldiers led by Ugandan citizens like Paul Kagame, committed atrocity after atrocity as they forced their way to power in Kigali, always falsely accusing their enemies—the power-sharing government of then President Juvenal Habyarimana—of genocide.26

On December 18, 2008, after the protracted ‘Military I’ trial, the judges at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR) ruled that there was no conspiracy to commit genocide by former Rwandan military leaders affiliated with the Habyarimana government. It was a war, and the actions—far from a calculated genocide—were found by the ICTR judges to be ‘war-time conditions’.27

“The media reports of the December 18 judgment [Military I] at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda focused primarily on the convictions of three of four former top military leaders, who were the supposed ‘masterminds’ of the Rwandan genocide,” wrote ICTR defense lawyer Peter Erlinder. “But, as those who have followed the ICTR closely know, convictions of members of the former Rwandan government and military are scarcely newsworthy.”27

Since the inception of the ICTR its decisions have been decisively biased—victor’s justice—in favor of the Kagame regime and to protect it and its backers. Thus it is no surprise that the former top military leaders of the Habyarimana government—Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, Major Aloys Ntabakuze and General Gratien Kabiligi—were sentenced to life imprisonment for acts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.28

“The real news was that ALL of the top Rwandan military officers, including the supposedly infamous Colonel Bagosora, were found not guilty of conspiracy or planning to commit genocide,” writes Erlinder. “And General Gratien Kabiligi, a senior member of the general staff was acquitted of all charges! The others were found guilty of specific acts committed by subordinates, in specific places, at specific times—not an overall conspiracy to kill civilians, much less Tutsi civilians.”27

Now, after more than fifteen years of massive western propaganda proclaiming an organized, systematic elimination of the Tutsi people by the Hutu leaders of the former Rwandan government, the official Rwanda genocide story has finally collapsed.

While the western media has consistently covered up the Rwandan occupation in Congo over the past decade, with a complete denial of Rwandan presence from circa 2005 to 2008, the imminent changing of the Presidential guard in the US provoked a recent rash of articles stating the obvious: Rwanda is all over Congo. In mid December the UN released a report further documenting what independent journalists have maintained and reported all along: the Rwandan government is directly backing rebel factions, criminal networks and mining operations in eastern Congo.

The euphemistically named guerrilla army—National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP)—lorded over by General Laurent Nkunda, has maintained direct personal communications with the office of the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame. The Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) have dispatched military personnel into Congo, recruited and armed child soldiers, and they are involved in minerals plunder, racketeering, extortion and war crimes.29

Now the Kagame government, immunized against prosecution thanks to their connections to top former Clinton and Bush officials, who now sit on high in the Obama administration, has openly sent more than 1500 troops into North Kivu using weapons recently delivered to Rwanda for their equally illegal terrorist operations in Darfur, Sudan.

The Kagame government, with its foreign backers, has pursued an identical strategy in Congo as they did in Rwanda, 1990-1994. The goal is to destabilize the region, manufacture chaos, sue for peace while pursuing war, and use the UN ‘peacekeeping’ mission to aid the predatory agenda. The final solution is to permanently criminalize the Hutu majority, entrench economic and political relations between the Kivus and Rwanda, and between Ituri and Uganda, and balkanize Congo—exactly as proposed by president Clinton’s national security insider Walter Kansteiner (1996).30

The ‘surprising’ arrest of General Laurent Nkunda, on January 22, 2009, by the troops of the joint FARDC and Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) operation is merely damage control, with General Laurent Nkunda being the latest Fall Guy arrested to recover some sense of credibility for the international police forces—the Pentagon and its proxy armies in Rwanda and Uganda—and to enable the Kagame military cabal to distance itself from the recent exposés documenting Rwanda’s machinations in eastern Congo.


The Gimme Shelter campaign set out to raise $23 million for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) for so-called “emergency humanitarian assistance” to help displaced persons in the DRC, and now it has spawned an industry unto itself.

“The Rolling Stones are very happy to contribute to Gimme Shelter in support of Ben’s efforts to raise the profile of the conflict in the Congo,” one UN public relations agency quotes Mick Jagger as saying. “We all need to stand up and support the work of organizations like UNHCR who are on the ground offering protection and working hard to ensure the rights and wellbeing of refugees.”31

Does UNHCR insure the rights and well being of refugees? The Gimme Shelter film has been distributed worldwide via Internet, television, mobile phones, cinemas and hotel chains.

Hollywood actorvist Mia Farrow—the Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF—also jetted into Congo for the festivities. Farrow made a three-day visit to the DRC in December, 2008, and then made a plug for the corporate AID industry by “urging all armed groups in North Kivu to allow aid organizations to provide life-saving assistance to women and children.”31

The structural violence that allows for white actorvist jet-setters like Mia Farrow to zoom into and out of such complex emergencies as Congo or Darfur, to make films in refugee camps or hold press conferences in war zones, and to urge armed groups to stop fighting so that business operations can be transacted, is never explored.

UNHCR’s headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland and there are 262 field offices in 116 countries: this is a big business operation dependent on insecurity, population displacements, and warfare.32

The current head of the UNHCR is António Guterres, who started as UN High Commissioner for Refugees on June 15, 2005, after Rudd Lubbers, the former UNHCR chief, resigned amidst a sex scandal.33 Guterres served as Portuguese prime minister from 1996 to 2002. Jean-Pierre Bemba, a Congolese warlord with deep ties to Portugal, was at the time a warlord in Congo backed by Uganda and its western allies.34

Western expatriates take a break from humanitarian relief operations to practice 'aquatic yoga' at a plush club swimming pool off limits to ordinary Congolese people. Just one of the many perks of relief work in 'exotic' foreign war zones. Photo Keith Harmon Snow, 2007.

The UNHCR’s interests in Congo are not only about sustained employment for its highly paid workers—where white people get the best jobs—and lucrative procurement contracts for other corporations. UNHCR also takes a highly politicized, corporate stance in host countries.

In Benin, in 1997, the UNHCR openly collaborated with Royal/Dutch Shell Corporation officials after Shell set up offices immediately behind the UNHCR headquarters in Cotonou. UNHCR was at the time responsible for several thousand indigenous Ogoni refugees who fled persecution by Royal/Dutch Shell and the Nigerian military in the oil-devastated Niger River Delta.35

In Gambella, Ethiopia, during the genocidal pogroms against the Anuak people (2005-2006), UNHCR operations were openly affiliated with the perpetrators and UNHCR never spoke out against atrocities committed by the government of President Meles Zenawi, with his approval.36

According to a Refugees International situation report of May 17, 1994, at the height of RPA war crimes in Rwanda, the UNHCR ‘Ngara’ Protection report documented atrocities committed by the RPA at the Tanzanian border—cold-blooded massacres of men, women and children, burned alive in huts, countless war crimes that were attributed to the ‘organized Hutu genocide.’37

“Asked by [a] UNHCR field officer, refugees said the RPF [sic] did not care whether victims [killed by RPA] were Hutu or Tutsi.”37

“Each day there are more and more bodies in the river and most of them without their heads.”37

Commenting on RPA massacres at other border points: “The people of Rwanda have nowhere else to go and we cannot expect them to stay and be slaughtered in their homes.”37

Further, and more devastating to the establishment’s portrayal of the RPA as a ‘disciplined’ rebel force that ‘stopped the genocide,’ it was a consultant named Robert Gersony, contracted by UNHCR, who staked his 25 year career on his findings from his investigation in Rwanda—”what he described as calculated, preplanned, systematic atrocities and genocide against Hutus by the RPA … a plan implemented as a policy from the highest echelons of [the Kagame] government.”38

The United Nations buried the Gersony Report, and it remains buried. When the Gersony report came out, the UNHCR suspended their support for voluntary repatriation of refugees to Rwanda because of RPA massacres. In response, the Rwandan government and many others in the UN turned on the UNHCR. Since that time (1995), UNHCR has accepted the establishment narrative about genocide in Rwanda.

  1. Howard Lesser, “UNHCR Unveils ‘Gimme Shelter’ Campaign for Congo War Victims,” Voice of America, December 18, 2008.
  2. In 2004, after this investigator’s first mission to Congo, a (naïve) letter was delivered directly to Angelina Jolie inviting her to travel deep into central Congo to witness the realities of white-owned slave plantations and mining; there was reply []
  3. See Keith Harmon Snow, “Merchants of Death: White Collar War Crimes, Black African Fall Guys,” Dissident Voice, December 8, 2008.
  4. Today, teachers and students can download ‘teaching resources’ that are used to indoctrinate a new set of young people to the mythologies and propaganda that are creating exploitation and suffering in the world, and further entrenching structural violence, while loudly and proudly claiming to alleviate it. See the pro-UNHCR propaganda web site connected to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum: Ripples of Genocide: A Journey Through Eastern Congo. []
  5. Ocean’s Thirteen stars donate $1 million in support of UN food agency,” UN News Centre, June 27, 2007.
  6. George Clooney, David Pressman and John Prendergast, “George Clooney on how Obama can help Congo,” Wall Street Journal, November 22, 2008.
  7. “Discredit the Hutu Population Forever, Analysis of the social, political, economic, military, geostrategic and diplomatic aspects of the crises in Rwanda before, during and after the outbreak of the crisis on April 6, 1994,” Report by Dr. Helmut Strizek, Case no ICTR 2000-56-I, Bonn, August 3, 2008.
  8. See Shannon Sullivan and Nancy Tuana, Ed., Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance, State University of New York Press, 2007.
  9. World Food Program, DRC. []
  10. United Nations General Assembly, Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Program, UN Doc A/AC.96/1040, 12 September 2007.
  11. Head, Private Sector Fundraising Service (PSFR), UNHCR, UNHCR, July 10, 2007.
  12. “UN peacekeepers attacked in Congo,” BBC and AP November 24, 2008.
  13. Michael Maren, The Road To Hell: The Ravaging Affects of Foreign Aid and International Charity, 1996.
  14. ‘FUBAR’ is an acronym, coined by US military during the US war in Vietnam: ‘Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition’. Private communication from Bukavu, DRC, January 16, 2009.
  15. Private communications, DRC, December 2008 & January 2009.
  16. Private communication, DRC, January 2009.
  17. Patrick Goldstein, “The Big Picture:
    Patrick Goldstein on the collision of entertainment, media and pop culture,” (Ben Affleck is Not Guilty About Being A Celebrity), Los Angeles Times, June 26, 2008. Note that the L.A. Times page with the Affleck story above has a dead baby fundraising advertisement for the multinational corporate entity World Vision, showing an African child, crying, with the headline, “A Child Dies Every Four Second: Sponsor A Child” and a digital clock ticking away the four seconds before the child’s image is blacked out and replaced with the next child to die and a new four second counter.
  18. See Keith Harmon Snow, “Three Cheers for Eve Ensler: Propaganda, White Collar Crime and Sexual Atrocities in Eastern Congo,” Z-Net, October 24, 2007.
  19. Even the word Interahamwe was misrepresented—providing a generalized media sound bite used to easily instill fear and criminalize—as ‘those who attack together’ or ‘those who kill together’ or though it is claimed to more accurately mean ‘united for the same ideal’ and ‘those who work together’. The misrepresentations proliferate in popular spaces like Wikipedia, where Interahamwe is curiously described as ‘the young Hutu males who carried out the Rwandan Genocide acts against the Tutsis in 1994′ but who ‘did not have a clearly organized group of followers’. Such language is telling. Wikipedia attributes the Interahamwe with ‘acts’ of genocide while also noting their total lack of organization, both facts being contrary to an organized, pre-planned, systematic genocide—which is exactly what the judges at the ICTR opined in their decisions of December 12, 2008.
  20. Banro Corporation, Financial Reports. See map of properties in South Kivu.
  21. Banro Corporation directors. ..
  22. Banro Corporation, “Why Africa and the DRC?
  23. “Ben Affleck Meets Former Child Soldiers in Save the Children’s Campaign to ‘Rewrite the Future’,” Save the Children.
  24. We are immediately reminded of the extensive and costly public relations campaigns of the Atlanta (GA) based Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. The DFGF cranked out public relations stories describing a beautiful school of university quality that was built, outfitted and sponsored by western donors. However, the situation at the Tayna Center for Conservation Biology—the “American University” and crown jewel of the Conservation International and DFGF efforts—was a sham. See Keith Harmon Snow and Georgianne Nienaber, “King Kong,” Parts 5 & 6, published August 2007 by COA News, available here.
  25. Marc Gunther, “Why CEOs love Rwanda: As a small African nation recovers from genocide, Google, Starbucks and Costco lend a hand,” Fortune Magazine, April 3, 2007.
  26. See Wayne Madsen, Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa, 1993-1999, Mellen Press, 1999; and “Discredit the Hutu Population Forever, Analysis of the social, political, economic, military, geostrategic and diplomatic aspects of the crises in Rwanda before, during and after the outbreak of the crisis on April 6, 1994,” Report by Dr. Helmut Strizek, Case no ICTR 2000-56-I, Bonn, August 3, 2008; Keith Harmon Snow: “Psychological Warfare, Embedded Reporters and the Hunting of Refugees,” Global Research, April 12, 2008.
  27. See Peter Erlinder, “Rwanda: No Conspiracy, No Genocide Planning … No Genocide?Jurist, December 23, 2008
  28. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) / Bagosora, Ntabakuze and Nsengiyumva given life sentences;
    Kabiligi acquitted
    ,” African Press Organization, December 18, 2008.
  29. Final report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UN, S/2008/773, December 2008.
  30. Walter Kansteiner, the son of a coltan trader in Chicago, is the former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa and former member of the Dept. of Defense Task Force on Strategic Minerals. Kansteiner’s speech at The Forum for International Policy in October of 1996 advocated partitioning the Congo (Zaire) into smaller states based on ethnic lineage. Ironically, while the speech was given, Laurent Kabila and his ADFL were beginning their march to overthrow Mobutu with the aid of Rwanda, Uganda, and the US.
  31. Actor Ben Affleck and Rolling Stone Mick Jagger join forces to help UN refugee agency,” UN News Center, December 17, 2008.
  32. Roxanne Stasyszyn, “A World Playground: Congolese Sacrificed for International Games and Profits,” Dissident Voice, November 8, 2008.
  33. Kate Holt and Leonard Doyle, “Harassment, intimidation and secrecy—UN chief engulfed in sex scandal,” The Independent, February 18, 2005.
  34. See Keith Harmon Snow, “A People’s History of Congo’s Jean-Pierre Bemba,” Toward Freedom, September 18, 2007,
  35. Keith Harmon Nnow, personal interviews with UNHCR and Ogoni refugees in Cotonou, Benin, 1997. See also Keith Harmon Snow (under the pseudonym Zak Harmon), “No Safe Haven: Even in refugee camps, Nigeria’s Ogonis face abuse and intimidation,” Toward Freedom, Vol. 46, No. 6, November 1997.
  36. Livelihoods and Vulnerabilities Study, Gambella Region of Ethiopia, United Nations Report, made public ‘without authorization’ by Keith Harmon Snow, December 13, 2006.
  37. See Mark Prutsalis, SITREP #10 Refugees in Tanzania, Refugees International, May 17, 1994.
  38. Shaharyar Khan, “The Gersony ‘Report’ Rwanda,” Outgoing Code Cable, United Nations, October 14, 1994.